The Fellowship of Sin and Fear
After the children of Israel cross the Jordan River they embark on their militaristic campaign to conquer the Promised Land. God delivers Jericho into their hands and warns them that they are not to take any pillage from the city and all the wealth of the city was to be consecrated unto the Lord. However, after the initial defeat at the hands of the men of Ai, it was found that Achan had sinned in taking for himself of the spoils of Jericho. When asked about his guilt Achan confesses, “When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it” (Joshua 7:21).
In this confession we note the progression of sin and the fear associated with it:
The Head: Achan said, “I saw.” We teach our children to “be careful little eyes what you see.” But how often do we place our eyes, our minds, on those very things that tempt us to do evil? The Psalmist wrote, “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me” (Psalm 101:3). Be careful big eyes what you see!
The Heart: Achan said, “I coveted.” Covetousness is a blight on any people and we live in a society inundated with it. People lie, cheat, and steal to get what they see. This plague has become a scar upon the church as well as men seek their own will and not the will of the Lord. Proverbs 4:23 says to, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”
The Hand: Achan said, “I took.” To see and desire are one thing; to act on it is something else all together! Here the sin is full-grown. James 1:15 tells us that, “when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” There are going to be times when we are going to be tempted to sin; this is simply a fact of living in sin-filled world. But just because this is true does not mean that we have to give in to the sin. In fact, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
The Hiding: Achan then said, “I hid them.” Why did he hide these things? Because he knew he had sinned, he knew it was wrong, and he was afraid. Sin brings fear because we know that there are consequences for our actions. Unfortunately some have become so callous to sin that they no longer fear. Fear and sin are inescapably connected.
The Horror: Achan is stoned to death for his sin. Again James 1:15 says that sin, “brings forth death.” Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death…” One of the saddest stories in all the Bible comes to a close with the acknowledgement of God’s wrath and the far reaching consequences of the sin and fear of one man.
The sinful life of every man follows this same progression and has just as sad and devastating consequences spiritually. However, we have this precious truth that there is “now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1). In Christ we have no reason to fear because He has paid the price for our sins and has saved us from sin and death (Romans 8:2). The love that God has poured out upon His children has delivered us from fear (2 Timothy 1:7). Because there is “no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18). Did you get that? Only those who have been perfected through obedience to Christ can live without fear. Be fearless and be faithful.